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healthy fats: the ABC’s of essential fatty acids

published 3 years ago, mid-July


Here is another guest post by my sister, Diana. She has nearly completed her nutrition degree. And I’ve asked her to contribute on a regular basis since we had such an overwhelmingly positive response to her first post on water here. In the post below, she’s taken on the sometimes confusing world of fats. Did you know certain fats are essential for life? These fats, known as essential fatty acids (EFAs), must be supplied by our diet because our body is unable to make them on its own. While essential fatty acids provide dozens of amazing health benefits, EFA deficiencies are correlated with a number of degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis.

What are EFAs?

Two fatty acids are classified as essential – the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid (LA), and the omega-3 fatty acid alpha- linolenic acid (LNA). Their names are derived from their chemical structures and properties.

Essential fatty acids are necessary for every life-sustaining process in our body. EFAs are structural parts of all cell membranes and are involved with producing energy in our body to maintain life. They are also used for the production of prostaglandins, which are important hormone-like substances that regulate various body processes. EFAs are required for proper brain function in adults, and proper brain development in children and fetuses. They even have positive effects on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, candidiasis, and other ailments.

Some other amazing benefits of essential fatty acids include enhanced immune function, shortened muscle recovery time after exercise, increased vitality, faster healing, reduced inflammation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, fewer PMS symptoms, reduced risk of blood clot formation, silkier hair, and smoother skin.

Are you getting enough EFAs?

Next to water, fats are the most common substances in our bodies. Fats are one of the major components of the foods we eat (along with carbohydrates and protein), and should constitute about 20% of our daily caloric intake. At least one-third of these fats and oils should be essential fatty acids. If either of the EFAs is lacking in the diet, deficiency symptoms will gradually develop.

Signs of an LNA (omega-3) deficiency include:

Slowed growth
Weakness
Dry skin
Neurological and visual problems
Increased susceptibility to infection
Behavioral changes
Learning impairment and poor recall capacity
Lack of motor coordination
Tingling sensation in arms and legs
*All deficiency symptoms can be reversed by adding LNA (omega-3) to the diet.

Signs of an LA (omega-6) deficiency include:

Slowed growth
Infertility
Miscarriages
Skin disorders
Hair loss
Kidney and liver disorders
Neurological and visual problems
Increased susceptibility to infection
Poor wound healing
Behavioral issues
Arthritis-like symptoms
*A prolonged deficiency of LA is fatal. All deficiency symptoms can be reversed by adding LA to the diet.

The following are not “classic” deficiency symptoms but respond very well to omega-3 fatty acid supplements; high blood triglycerides, high blood pressure, edema, and low metabolic rate.

The jury is still out on specific daily requirements for essential fatty acids; there is no government-issued recommended daily allowance (RDA) for EFAs. Daily requirements depend on your state of health, physical activity, stress, diet, and other unique individual needs. Of the two EFAs, LA (omega-6) has a higher daily requirement. That’s because our body’s content of LA (omega-6) is higher than LNA (omega-3). In general, an optimum amount is approximately 3 to 6% of calories, or about 1 tablespoon of LA (omega-6) per day.

The optimum amount of LNA (omega-3) needed for health is approximately 2% of daily calories, or 1 to 2 teaspoons per day. This is between one-fifth and one-half the dosage of LA (omega-6).

For optimum health, essential fatty acids should be consumed in a ratio of 3 parts LA (omega-6) to 1 part LNA (omega-3). This ratio can be created by blending oils rich in EFAs to achieve the proper balance.

Hemp seed oil is a good choice as it naturally contains both essential fatty acids in the 3:1 ratio. Two quality brands of pre-mixed oils (in the proper ratio of EFAs) include Udo’s Oil and Barlean’s. These can both be found in the refrigerated section of your local health food store.

Which foods are the richest sources of EFAs?

safflower and sunflower oils,
soybeans,
hemp seeds,
walnuts,
pumpkin seeds,
flax,
borage and black current seed oils,
and meats.
Safflower oil is the richest source of LA (omega-6 ) acid. Flax oil is the richest source of LNA (omega-3).

LNA (omega-3) consumption has decreased dramatically in this country over the last 150 years, while LA (omega-6) consumption has steadily increased. It has been estimated that 95% of the population gets too little LNA (omega-3). This has no doubt contributed to the declining health of our nation. The over-consumption of LA (omega-6) causes an imbalance of essential fatty acids that leads to degenerative disease.

Essential fatty acids cannot perform their critical work in a malnourished body. Government surveys have shown that over 60% of the population is deficient in one or more essential nutrients. A total of about 20 minerals and 13 vitamins are essential for human health. Nutrients in the body are interdependent – meaning they depend on each other for their ability to function. In this way, EFAs should be part of a healthy diet containing all of the essential vitamins and minerals, protein, fiber, pure water, fresh air, and sunshine. In particular, vitamins A, B3, B6, C, E, and the minerals magnesium and zinc are important for EFA function.

Where do I go from here ?

Remember the old adage “you are what you eat” may help you to remove some of the nutrient-void foods from your diet. Start by lowering overall fat consumption. Cut out high-fat processed and packaged foods containing margarine and shortening, limit intake of butter and refined vegetable oils, and remove visible fats and skin on meats. Eliminate oxidized fats and oils. These oils are often present in fried, aged, processed, and cured foods. Eliminate all hydrogenated fats and trans fats. These are found in many processed foods on the market today. These “fake” fats act like saturated fats in the body. They raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Trans fats also increase inflammation and insulin resistance.

Eliminate refined sugar and starch, and products made with them. Refined sugar increases our blood triglyceride levels, inhibits immune function, interferes with vitamin C function (a powerful antioxidant), and robs our body of needed minerals. Eliminate toxins such as environmental chemicals, including pesticides (eat organic foods), drugs, coffee, cola, tobacco smoke, etc.

A good goal could be to eat a balanced diet including a variety of organic, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and quality proteins. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of pure water each day. Strive for at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. Venture outside to take in plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Balance it out with some fun, relaxation and good quality sleep!

healthy no-mayo slaw with greens

published 3 years ago, mid-July

It’s been a nutty couple of months: plain and simple. It’s sort of crazy to look back and reflect upon the intensity of it, really. In April, my dad lost his younger brother. That was hard. He was the coolest. He lost his battle with cancer but I will never forget his broad smile, his infectious laugh or his incredible sense of humor. Funny, one thing that sticks with me about my uncle was his love of food. Good food. And he had adopted a healthy way of eating long before healthy was “in.”

A month later, my dad lost his mom.

She was a nonagenarian – she lived a full life and was well-loved. She managed to raise 6 children and keep her sanity and sense of humor doing it. When faced with the craziness of my own fast-paced life with three active children, I once asked her, “How on earth did you manage it all with SIX children?” She would sit back in her favorite blue chair and just shrug her shoulders unassumingly. “Well, I don’t know…I just did.” She maintained an enviable sense of optimism no matter what came her way. Up until the last few days of her life, she was convinced she was going to beat her cancer. She had it licked. She was that tough.

Over the years, my son has struggled with a series of dietary and, as a result, developmental issues. It was a rarity for him to go to anyone, trust anyone. Yet, every single time we entered my Gram’s apartment he would walk straight up to her and sit on her lap. And when he became physically too big to do so, he would crawl up next to her in her chair and she would stroke his arm, or the hair on his head. The words exchanged between them were few, but they shared something very special. It was beautiful.

Her mind was as sharp as a tack. With fourteen grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren, she never once forgot a name, birthday or special occasion. It was all there on the tip of her tongue. And then, there’s me: I am half her age and I must carry around a notebook for fear that all the information overflowing from my brain will be lost permanently, gobbled up into space. Even though there were so many of us, I always felt as if I were the only grandchild. She had a way of making you feel very special. I just miss her. Terribly.

The day of her funeral, the 18-wheeler arrived at our house to move our family across town. My husband stayed home with the kids and attempted to coordinate the move. God love him. He did a great job. And we got through it. We always do no matter how tough it seems at the time. We feel so blessed to be in a house that we can make a home. In the last month, we’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to dig a path out from underneath all the boxes (and junk) we have accumulated over our 10 years of marriage. But, I’ve decided that most of it will have to wait for the cold, dark and dreary days of winter. Right now – it’s too nice outside. And it’s time to enjoy summertime. And each other.

no-mayo slaw with greens

Last night, I made this coleslaw. I purposely let it sit in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mellow. I took it out of the fridge this morning to give it a stir and my kids begged me for a bite. Then they asked for a bowl. And then a second helping. It’s a riff on Mark Bittman’s no-mayo coleslaw with a healthy dose of greens. I didn’t put exact measurements on the cabbage or carrots because, if you’re like me, you like to tweak that depending on your personal tastes. You can make it ahead and let it sit overnight or just make it in the morning for your meal that evening. Or you can eat it immediately. Personally, I think it tastes better after it’s had a chance to sit for a while.

4-5 cups of organic cabbage, sliced thinly or shredded
3-4 organic carrots, grated
1-1 1/2 cups curly kale, sliced into ribbons
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice (if you tolerate vinegar, you could use that here, too)
1/2 tsp sea salt
a few turns of freshly ground black pepper

1.) In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
2.) Add in the sliced cabbage, grated carrots and sliced kale and stir well to combine with a wooden spoon.
3.) You can make it ahead and let it sit overnight or just make it in the morning for your meal that evening. Or you can eat it immediately. Personally, I think it tastes better after it’s had a chance to sit a while.

super easy fudge

published 3 years ago, mid-May


My daughter’s nursery school hosted a Mother’s Day tea last week. They sang to us and served us tea and snacks. When I arrived at my seat, this oh so sweet poem was awaiting me. I mean, how special is that? All the moms – we all tried to hold it together but there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

The day before, she and her classmates had made fudge to serve at the little buffet table. As a surprise, I made some fudge at home for the two of us to share (so she wouldn’t feel left out). When she caught a glimpse of it, she couldn’t contain her excitement. She’d never had the pleasure of eating fudge before. It was such a special treat.  Side note: My children don’t tolerate coconut – so I didn’t attempt to make this with coconut oil or coconut milk – but I imagine it would be divine.

super easy fudge

1 package Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup cashew cream* (see note below)
1 tblsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp bourbon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

1.) Lightly grease an 8×8 glass dish. Set aside.
2.) Place the chocolate chips, cashew cream, vanilla, and oil in a glass heatproof dish. Stir well to combine.
3.) Microwave for 1 minute.
4.) Stir the mixture very well, until all the lumps are gone and pour into the glass dish. Using a spatula, spread out the fudge into an even layer.
5.) Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top.
6.) Put in the fridge to set, anywhere from three hours to overnight.
7.) Cut into 1/2 inch squares

*Note: Place one half cup soaked raw cashews in the blender with 1 cup of water. The result will be creamy raw cashews in the form of a cream. Soak the cashews for at least 4 hours before blending.

This post is linked to Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Friday and Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuedsay

lemon polenta cake

published 3 years ago, at the end of April


This cake is for my mom, for Mother’s Day. She has had a lifelong love affair with lemon. Hand lotion. Shower gel. Water with a slice of lemon. Lemon bars. You name it.

I have three siblings and our house was crazy growing up. When I say crazy, I mean a total circus. In fact, my brothers and sister still refer to it by that name today. My mom is the master of all trades. When I think back to all she has done for us since the day we entered this world – it’s mind boggling. Some 10,000 hand-prepared healthy lunches for the four of us. Endless hours behind the wheel, chauffeuring us all over God’s green earth. Somehow cloning herself so that she could be at simultaneous soccer games and tennis matches. She was (and still is) our biggest cheerleader both on and off the field. She successfully managed it all so effortlessly. Or so I thought.

As a young person, I  – to a certain extent – understood how amazing my mom was. But, I believe we cannot truly appreciate motherhood – in the deepest sense – until we become a mother to our own children. We cannot fully grasp what it takes: complete devotion, unconditional love, endless patience and a sense of humor.

I never could have conceived of how much I would worry once my husband and I had brought a child into the world. Just recently, I was sitting in the dark ,rocking my 2 year old before bed. All at once, I was overcome with emotion, faced with the fact that in a blink of an eye my daughter was going to be eighteen and I wouldn’t be able to protect her anymore. I try not to spend all my time being worried about something I cannot control. I try to soak in each moment – - make every second count. But, she will grow up. She will spread her wings and leave home. And she will have her own family one day.  I was sharing this story with my mom, to which she responded: “You, my dear, are 40 and I still worry about you like I did when you were 5 years old.”  And in that moment, she understood that I understood.

My mom is so many things. Smart, witty, kind-hearted and generous. She is selfless in the truest sense of the word. Growing up, we didn’t have very much. But, she, like her mom before her, made a heck of a lot out of very little. From time to time, she placed unexpected little handwritten notes in my lunchbox that read, “I love you – make it a great day!”  It’s the thousands of little things she has done for me that have molded and shaped me into the woman I am today. I am so incredibly grateful for my mom. Each and every day, I strive to emulate her example.

This post is linked to Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Fridays and Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free Brunches over at Maggie’s.


lemon polenta cake

A couple of  weeks ago, I hosted a little blogger get together for some local foodie friends. I made this cake for that evening as I believe anything with lemon is a hit. That night, all I had on hand was Florida Crystals sugar (which I typically never use). It rose quite beautifully and was super moist. I’ve played with the recipe for a week or two, trying desperately to recreate the cake refined sugar free and with less of it in general. I do believe that the larger crystals of maple sugar I was substituting with – although a perfectly suitable alternative to refined sugar – was wreaking a fair amount of havoc on the (risen) appearance of the cake. All was lost until I decided to grind the maple sugar in my blender – that was all it took to achieve a tall cake with a moist and tender crumb. I used de la Estancia fine ground organic gluten free cornmeal which I found at my local grocery store.

200grams/scant 1 cup of oil
50grams/1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
150 grams/3/4 cup (maple or coconut sugar) powdered sugar (I make my own) – see step #4 below
3 lemons (see note below) + their zest, preferably organic
4 eggs,
room temperature
125 grams/3/4 cup + 1.5 Tbsp organic polenta (aka cornmeal) uncooked – just the dry grits.
47 grams/1/3 c  + 1.5 Tbsp sorghum flour
42 grams/1/3 cup white rice flour
15 grams/3 Tbsp tapioca starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder

1.) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2.) Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish (square or round).
3.) Measure out the flours and whisk together with the salt, xanthan gum and baking powder. Set aside.
4.) Place 150 grams of sugar and one tablespoon arrowroot powder or tapioca starch in a blender or spice/coffee grinder until it forms powdered sugar.
5.) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the oil, applesauce and sugar. Blend until light and smooth, 1 minute.
6.) Using a microplane or a zester, remove only the zest (not the white pith) from the lemons. Set the zest aside for a moment. Juice the lemons and measure out 70 grams or 1/3 cup of lemon juice. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice to the batter.
7.) Add one egg at a time, mixing for about 10 seconds between each egg.
8.) Slowly pour in the polenta until it’s mixed in, about 30 seconds.
9.) Slowly add in the flour. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Zest often gets stuck to the paddle attachment so make sure you use a spatula to get it back into the batter.
10.) Transfer batter into the baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes (until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean).
11.) Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Side note #1: if you’re making cupcakes, cook for 20-25 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Side note #2: Please do yourself a favor and buy a food scale.
It will change your life. It has transformed my baking in the sense that I feel much more confident in the kitchen – because it’s more exact (food science). For example, a 1/4 cup of millet flour weighs quite differently than, say, a 1/4 arrowroot starch. See?  I owe it all to Shauna :)


corn free tortilla chips

published 3 years ago, mid-April


My children do not tolerate seeds of any kind. No sunflower, no flax, no chia, and no sesame. Which basically puts any kind of a chip-in-a-bag off limits. Have you ever tried to locate a healthy gluten free chip that is not cooked in sunflower oil ? It’s a rare thing, friends. Instead of allowing myself to get down in the dumps about it, I started making my own. And they’re baked, not fried.

Every once in a while, on Friday evenings, I make four or five tapas and we have a little “graze” for dinner. My husband often requests chips and guacamole. I think we can all agree that chips and guac just isn’t the same with rice crackers, right?  My kids feel as if they are eating just like their Dad when I make these. It’s wonderful.  Side note: I use Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas. See link below.

2 brown rice tortillas

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position the rack in the center of oven.
2.) Bring the tortillas to room temperature: Either let them sit out for about 10-15 minutes. Or microwave on medium for 15-18 seconds.
3.) Cut the tortillas in triangular shapes and place on baking sheets (greasing not necessary). The best way to do this is to cut them in half, layer (stack) them on top of each other and cut into triangles with a good chef’s knife.
4.) Place them on a cookie sheet (or two), spacing about 1-2 inches apart.
5.) Bake for 4-5 minutes (depending on the calibration of your oven). Once they reach 4 minutes, watch them closely!
6.) cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheets and serve.

This post is linked up to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

giving thanks and whole grain waffles

published 3 years ago, at the end of February

I didn’t wake up to an alarm this morning. Or my clock radio. I woke up to my 17 month old daughter singing to herself in her crib. In the dark of the early morning, I just lay there listening to her, entertained by the sound of her delightful la-la-las. A few minutes later, I hear a doorknob jingle. I call out in a low voice, “Who is awake?” But, my call remains unanswered. Then I hear a door close. My heart sinks. I fear my daughter has entered my son’s room at o’dark thirty, disturbing his desperately needed sleep. I hop out of bed and tip toe down the hallway to investigate, the aged hardwood floors creaking under my feet. As my hand touches the doorknob, I hear my daughter ask my son if he’s had a good sleep. My heart melts at the beauty of them, their relationship and the fact that she loves him so much she had to be assured he was well rested. As I enter the room, I fumble to get closer to the bed. My eyes finally adjust to the darkness and I see that she has climbed under the covers to be next to him. They see me approaching and they start giggling. It’s like music to my ears.

Some days are a challenge. But, every day is a gift. One that I must continually remind myself to be “present” and be grateful for. If there are hard moments – lows – they don’t last long. They are invariably followed by wondrous highs, like….

A while back, I made SpunkyCoconut’s cashew milk yogurt for my kids. I handed them each a jar and a spoon. I sat down across the table from them, eager to witness their expressions as they ate it. No amount of money would have encouraged me to leave the table at that very moment. There was complete silence save the din of spoons hitting glass, trying to extract every last drop of yogurt from the jar. In between bites, broad smiles gave way to giggles. I was moved to tears. Seriously. It was pure joy. Eating yogurt may seem so routine, so run of the mill, or ordinary to most people. But, having yogurt when you’re intolerant to dairy, soy and coconut is a HUGE deal. It’s a simple thing but it is one that means so much. I remain grateful for that moment and so many others like it.

Unlike most people I know, I cook 99.9% of our food from scratch. This requires an immeasurable time commitment. Often, I feel guilty for spending so much time in the kitchen when I could be outside playing with my children. It’s a constant struggle. But, it’s those moments – *those* moments – that make the time and effort worth it. My children motivate me each and every day to be better, cook healthier and to learn what works, what doesn’t and how to make each bite count toward our overall health. I do it for them. I realize Thanksgiving has passed. But, it doesn’t matter much. In my opinion, it’s never an inopportune time to be grateful for the blessings in life. My husband says a prayer at the dinner table that never ceases to move me. It goes something like, “let us not be thankful for today, but for each and every day we are given”.

Whole Grain Gluten Free Waffles (egg free, seed free, gum free, corn free, potato free , rice free, legume free & nut free)

The scene at our house in the mornings is crazy. Each person inevitably wants something different for breakfast. My sister and I often joke that we could pass for short order cooks. Waffles, smoothies, oatmeal, eggs and bacon all seem to come up on the line within minutes of each other. This waffle recipe was born out of my desire to find a good egg-free whole grain waffle recipe (that’s free of all the offenders and safe for the baby) that didn’t taste like a brick. I wanted it to be gum-free, corn free and potato free, too. We love them: they are light, crispy and satisfying. We usually have fruit on top (not syrup) so I typically add in a small amount of maple sugar. One batch of flour mix makes 2 recipes. I measure out the flour and put the other half in a container for another morning. I love the idea of waking up and having the flour all ready to go.

250 g flour mix (2 cups) (see below)
3 tsp baking powder (corn-free)
2 Tbs maple sugar
(or coconut sugar)
2 Tbs mild tasting oil

1 cup + 2 Tbs filtered water (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

  1. Measure out the dry ingredients and whisk them together. Set aside.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients and stir well.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk gently to combine, until all the bits of flour are mixed in. I like to let mine sit for at least one minute (sometimes 2) before filling the waffle iron. The batter will thicken ever so slightly.
  4. If your waffle maker requires it (some don’t like spray), spray some oil (I use grapeseed oil spray) before you pour the batter into your waffle maker (mine takes 1/2 cup batter at a time) – following your waffle maker instructions. Enjoy!


Whole grain/waffle flour mix:

125 g sorghum flour (1 1/2 cups)
125 g teff flour (1 cup)
100 g millet flour (3/4 c + 1.5 Tbs)
75 g tapioca starch (2/3 cup)
75 g arrowroot starch (2/3 cup)

This post is linked up to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Fridays

water: drink and thou shall be healthier

published 3 years ago, at the end of January

Today, I’m sharing an interview with my sister. I am so proud of her. She is studying to be a nutritionist and is currently an Examiner in the Denver area (see her website here). In the interview, she  discusses water -  why it’s critical to our body’s everyday functions. Did you know according to research estimates, 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated? How crazy is that number?? I think you’ll find lots of helpful information here. I know I did. Most people (including myself) probably don’t realize how dehydration can impact almost every system in your body. Read on!

Why is Water Intake So Important?

Water is essential to life.  Every single living cell is made up of water.  In fact, water is the most important component of the human body, accounting for an astounding 70% of an adult’s body weight!

The Human Body’s Water Content by Age
Age Water Content
Newborn 80%
Child 75%
Adult 70%
Elderly 60%

Can you speak about some of the dangers of dehydration?

Sure. Most people assume they are drinking enough water.  Thoughts of dehydration conjures up images of weary marathon runners collapsing after crossing the finish line.  These athletes are most likely experiencing acute dehydration, which has sudden and intense symptoms, including death in the most severe cases.

But there is another type of dehydration, called chronic dehydration, which is widespread in today’s culture and causes a variety of chronic health problems.  While chronic dehydration is not immediately life-threatening, insufficient water intake will have a significant negative impact on your long-term health.  When the body is deprived of liquids over a long period of time, it  naturally seeks sources of water inside itself.  Valuable water is diverted from the blood and the cells.  As a result, two serious problems arise.  These problems – 1.) the slowdown of enzymatic processes and 2.) autointoxication – are the precursors to all disorders caused by dehydration.

Enzymes assist in nearly all bodily functions, such as digestion, respiration, elimination, energy production, and detoxification. Enzymes need an environment rich in water to perform their functions.  When blood volume and cellular fluids decrease as a result of dehydration, bodily fluids become scant and thick, and enzymes cannot perform their critical tasks.  Eventually the body breaks down.  This may happen suddenly in acute dehydration, or over time in chronic dehydration.  As you can imagine, an enzymatic slowdown caused by lack of water links dehydration to a host of disorders of the human body.

Some of the disorders caused by chronic dehydration are:

  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Low Energy
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Gastritis
  • High or Low Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Premature Aging
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Rheumatism
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Urinary Infections

Autointoxication is another serious metabolic problem that leads to disorders caused by chronic dehydration.  Every day our cells produce toxic waste.  Water is essential for flushing these wastes out of the body by way of sweat, urine, exhaled air, and feces.  When the body is dehydrated, there is not sufficient water to facilitate the removal of wastes.  As a result, elimination slows down and toxins accumulate in the body.  Over time, the body becomes poisoned by its own waste products.

Does Water Play a Role in Disease Prevention?

Absolutely!  Adequate water intake is beneficial for nearly all diseases experienced by human beings.  Without sufficient water every bodily function can be impaired.  Most people don’t realize that simply drinking adequate amounts of water could resolve many of their health problems, give them more energy, and help fend off premature aging.  Water is a very inexpensive and natural way to heal many common ailments.  For example, adequate water is helpful for reducing bowel and bladder problems, headaches, anxiety attacks, food allergies, heartburn, muscle pain, colitis pain, hot flashes, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, obesity, premature aging, poor brain function, kidney stones, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and many other disorders.

Simple question:  how do we know how much water is enough?

Well, we can take a look at how much fluid the body loses each day.  The average adult loses about 2.5 liters of liquid each day through various bodily functions.

The Human Body’s Average Daily Liquid Losses
Urine 1.5 liters
Sweat 0.5 liters
Through the lungs 0.4 liters
Through the intestines 0.1liters
Total 2.5 liters

Of course, fluid loss can increase or decrease under certain circumstances, (for example, if you’ve had an intense workout or high fever result in more sweating).  If we look at the amount of liquid lost each day  it makes sense that we should  offset that by taking in at least 2.5 liters of liquid each day.  It is essential to replace lost fluids to keep our bodies functioning at peak performance.  But, it’s important to remember that the amount of water your body requires each day depends on several factors such as your activity level, food choices, climate, etc.  For example, exercise, overeating, excess salt, dry processed foods, smoking, and hot weather can increase water needs.  Conversely, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables decreases water requirements.  While it is best to meet your fluid requirements with pure water, knowing the water content of certain foods can help you meet your hydration goals.

Water Content of Foods
Vegetables
Cucumbers 95.6%
Salad greens 94%
Green peppers 90.4%
Broccoli 90%
Green & red cabbage 90%
Fruits
Tomatoes 97%
Melons 92%
Papaya 91%
Grapefruit 90%
Cranberries 89%
Meat
Chicken 70%
Veal 69%
Lamb 62%
Beef 61%
Pork 65%
Fish
Cod 82%
Pollack 80%
Trout 77.6%
Mackerel 68.1%
Salmon 65.5%
Eggs
Hen’s eggs 74%
Dairy Products
Cow’s milk 87%
Yogurt 86%
Soft white cheese 79%
Sour cream 62%
Cheddar 38%

Most cereal grains, baked good, and legumes contain relatively little water.  The exceptions are some grains cooked in liquid, such as cooked rice and cooked pasta, which contain 71 percent and 61 percent water, respectively.


So, what’s the best way for people to meet their daily water requirements?

Most people typically only drink enough to quench a dry throat, which really does not come close to covering their daily water needs. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how so many of us become dehydrated.  In order to stay properly hydrated it may be helpful to schedule and measure your water intake.  As we age, our taste buds become less sensitive so it becomes even more critical to drink even when we are not thirsty.  If your goal is to drink 2.5 liters of water per day, use a 10 ounce glass and aim for 8 full glass per day.  Always start your day with a large glass of water to awaken and rehydrate your body.  Drink large amounts of water at least 30 minutes before and one hour after meals to avoid diluting digestive juices.  Small amounts of liquid (preferably warm) with meals is fine.  If you’re concerned about weight loss, drink a large glass of water instead of eating when you feel hungry.  It’s very common to confuse the sense of hunger for thirst.  A good gauge of whether or not you’re hydrated is your frequency and volume of urination. You should use the bathroom every few hours and your urine should be light colored.  Dark, concentrated urine is a sign of dehydration.

Some other common signs of dehydration are:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability, impatience, restlessness, difficulty sleeping
  • Unusually dry skin and loss of appetite with constipation
  • Water retention

Can you tell us what the best type of water is? Is tap water ok?

All drinks are not created equal.  The majority of your liquid intake should be water.  If you enjoy other beverages chose drinks with a strong hydrating capacity such as unsweetened herbal tea (non-diuretic), unsweetened fruit juice, and vegetable juice.  Minimize drinks with a weak hydrating capacity including coffee, black tea, cocoa, soft drinks, and alcohol.  These beverages increase water needs instead of satisfying them.

With all of the “water products” on the market today, choosing a drinking water can be overwhelming.  Start by sampling a few different filtered and bottled waters to find one that you enjoy drinking.  The more you like the taste, the more you’ll drink!  If you drink tap water, depending on where you live you may want to purchase a good quality filter to remove contaminants.  There are several types of bottled waters on the market.  Bottled spring water from a credible source (e.g., (Denver-based Eldorado Springs) and reverse osmosis filters are good choices.  Visit www.epa.gov to learn more about bottled water and tap water regulations.

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